Sunday, December 5, 2010

Heifer International : Give a Goat..or a chicken...

Eden going to collect eggs this past summer

Being a farmer (I use that term loosely) raising animals are part of our daily family chores. My kids know where our hamburgers and eggs come from on a first hand basis. I realize that in the United State our way of life seems uncommon but in most parts of the world its the way to ensure provisions for your family. This is why I love the giving through Heifer International. The whole idea behind Heifer is similar to the biblical story of how it is better to teach a man to fish so he can feed himself for a lifetime rather than just giving him a fish that will provide him with a single meal. Heifer International gives families a source food, such as livestock or seeds, rather than short-term relief. Families are educated on the care of their animals or seeds and then encouraged to pay it forward to another family when their animals or seeds reproduce. In this way, a single donation to a family can drastically effect an entire community. Wow! Shopping is fun at Heifer International, with so many options and levels of giving. You can "buy" a goat ($120) or a share of a goat ($10). A flock of ducks is only $20! I could easily see a business forgoing exchanging gifts in the workplace and instead buying the gift of an ark (15 pairs of animals sent all over the world to change lives!)

Goat Donation

After all, sometimes all a child needs to be healthy and happy.... is a goat!

ending hunger, caring for the earth

And its not just a Christmas thing either. You can volunteer, visit, learn, and even do fundraising though Heifer International!


  1. Heifer International (HI) is an organization that claims to work against world hunger by donating animals to families in developing countries. Its catalog deceptively portrays beautiful children holding cute animals in seemingly humane circumstances. The marketing brochure for HI does not show the animals being transported, their living and slaughter conditions, or the erosion, pollution and water use caused by the introduction of these animals and their offspring.

    By definition, animals raised for food are exploited in a variety of ways. The animals shipped to developing countries are often subject to; water and food shortages, cruel procedures without painkillers, lack of veterinary care resulting in extended suffering as a result of illness or injury.

    A large percentage of the families receiving animals from HI are struggling to provide for themselves and cannot ensure adequate living conditions, nutrition, and medical care for animals they have been given. HI provides some initial veterinary training to individuals and the initial vaccines. But, long term care for these animals and their offspring is up to the individuals.

    To make matters worse, animal agriculture causes much more harm to the environment than plant-based agriculture. The fragile land in many of the regions HI is sending the animals cannot support animal agriculture. Although they say they encourage cut and carry feeding of the animals to avoid erosion, the reality is often quite different.

    The consumption of animal products has been shown in reputable studies to contribute significantly to life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a variety of cancers. Regions that have adopted a diet with more animal products see an increase in these diseases. The remote communities supposedly served by HI have no way of dealing with the health consequences of joining the high-cholesterol world.

    While it may seem humane and sustainable to provide just one or two dairy cows here or there, the long term consequences are an increased desire for animal products in local cultures leading to an increase in production. These communities may be able to absorb the additional water use of one or two cows, what happens when there are hundreds or thousands of dairy cows, each consuming 27 to 50 gallons of fresh water and producing tons of excrement? The heavy cost to animals, the environment and local economies is not figured into HI's business practices.

  2. Thanks for reading our ramblings and we hope that this one conflict of interest doesn't keep you from coming back! Obviously, not everyone will agree with what we write and the choices we make. However, we do give to various charities and Heifer International, while not perfect, does positively impact communities. If you do not feel that gifting animals help people then please consider donating to their other causes such as female equality, seedlings and beehives.


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